Manual for Happy Software Engineers @ 42 Wolfsburg

While 42 Wolfsburg is a peer learning school with a strong focus on project-based learning, we believe that a well-rounded programmer cares about general Education (Bildung) and the many elements in life that make up a “happy software engineer”. So at 42 Wolfsburg we really like books and believe that many of the best sources of inspiration and codified knowledge have been produced in the form of books. Reading, after all, is a form of guided meditation, an internal dialogue between author and reader and one that can especially work wonders when the authors are well-chosen.

Inspired by organizations such as The Long Now Foundation (and their Manual for Civilization), whose aim has been to encourage ‘slower/better’ thinking, we recognize the tremendous value of allocating proper time for reading, relaxation, play, and deep concentration, as ways of counteracting the pathologically short attention span fostered by today’s predominant life-rhythms.

Our mission is to establish a community of mindful, creative problem-solvers and critical thinkers and we are convinced that the best kind of ideas emerge only when one slows down, takes the time to process newly-acquired knowledge, and practices ‘long-term’ thinking.

For this reason, we are working diligently to set up a physical library space inside our campus which will include a curated collection of books and learning resources meant to optimally represent a wide variety of knowledge areas. The physical library is also meant to be supplemented by an online knowledge base, where our community will share their impressions, comments, and questions about the resources. At the same time, we will be running a regular book-recommendation series on our social media platforms and podcasts to further ignite interest in high-quality reading.

To establish our library we ask experts and thought leaders to identify the top books they would recommend budding software engineers to read. In their selection, we encourage them to choose books that have a particularly long half-life — meaning those that continue to be relevant for 10–20–50 years. Hence we are looking to build a collection of the most valuable books on the wide spectrum of subjects relevant for the #nextGenerationSoftwareEngineers.

The Long Now Foundation has set a limit of 1000 books for their Manual of Civilization and we really like the idea to create a finite best-of selection. But frankly, we have not found a viable solution to define which books have to go when new ones are proposed to enter, once the 1000 mark has been hit. But we have some time to figure it out ;-)

Crucially, we consider play and experimentation a cornerstone of practice- and simulation-based learning, concept modeling, and strategic thinking. Therefore our library will also contain a selection of what the community considers the best board- and video games.

We strongly believe that the library will complement valuably our technical curriculum and thus help our students become happy, thoughtful, and responsible software engineers.

If you have any recommendations of books or resources that you think we should add to our collection, please let us know in the comments.

42 is an innovative, higher education software engineering school, sponsored by Volkswagen

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